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Wade Davis: Closeted Gay Players Not 'Chicken'


A few weeks ago, just before the new year, I shared a gay history flashback in the form of a post about Gay Comix, the short-lived, late-70s/early-80s periodical that covered, with tongue in cheek, the burgeoning gay rights movement in illustration.

In that post, I mentioned that a few issues have been reprinted in Robert Triptow's Gay Comics, a collection of LGBT cartoons from that era. My copy of Triptow's anthology came last week, but I didn't had a chance to review it until today.

The first illustration I randomly opened to, a mid-70s cartoon by Charles Ortleb and Richard Fiala originally published in the gay newspaper Christopher Street, is posted above. In case the punchline is too blurry, it reads, "Coach Waldman [no relation] passes out xeroxes of an article asserting that only one in ten of his team could possibly be gay."

This gag, sadly, remains relevant today. Despite all the progress LGBT people have made, the mound, the pitch and the rink all remain relatively closed to sexual honesty.

Wade Davis knows this all too well. The former NFL player had to wait until he retired to come out. Since then, he has dedicated his time to making the collective locker room a more welcoming place for gay players. That doesn't mean, however, that he thinks gay players should be chided for not coming out.

In response to ESPN journalist LZ Granderson's claim that closeted players are "chicken," Davis penned a Los Angeles Times op-ed in which he argues that the onus is on straight players and fans to create a more inclusive environment:

Coming out, or as I like to say, "inviting in," is an individual process that requires a level of safety and security. In women's sports, a number of gay athletes have disclosed their sexual orientation, including tennis champion Amelie Mauresmo, basketball great Sheryl Swoopes and soccer star Megan Rapinoe. It was interesting how little fallout there was from those announcements. But I suspect that women's sports fans are more accepting, in part because of misguided societal notions about femininity and masculinity.

I don't believe another athlete would try to harm a gay male athlete, but professional sports is still full of people happy to express their disapproval of homosexuality, and coming out requires a supportive environment.

It's been about 40 years since Christopher Street published the above cartoon, but this very well could have been run this morning.

I'm Gay: The 50 Most Powerful Coming Outs of 2012



"The fact is, I'm gay." Anderson Cooper's long-awaited announcement sums what it meant to come out in 2012. Again and again we heard the same sentiment — from pop singer Mika's equally anticipated confirmation, "If you ask me am I gay, I say yeah," to actor Andrew Rannells casually remarking about relating to a gay character, "I am gay in real life, so I definitely get it." —  proving that coming out today is in many cases a non-event, and certainly secondary to other achievements.

Yes, a lot has changed in the 15 years since Time magazine ran that cover of Ellen DeGeneres declaring, "Yep, I'm Gay," and even in the six since Lance Bass told People, "I'm Gay." Entertainment Weekly published a cover story this summer called "The New Art Of Coming Out," concluding, "The current vibe for discussing one’s sexuality is almost defiantly mellow."

Yet most of this positive change has happened in familiar territory.

Former NFL star Wade Davis' coming out was a first, as was current professional boxer Orlando Cruz's. And Lee "Uncle Poodle" Thompson from Here Comes Honey Boo Boo helped broaden the overall discussion about LGBT people. But there are a few people on this list who were less valiant, like Republican Sheriff Paul Babeu, and still others who remained quiet about their sexuality to the day they died. The debate over balance between privacy and responsibility is still one worth having, and clearly there are more arenas where LGBT people need space to shine.

All in all, though, 2012 shows that gay people who break down that closet can have it all.

Who had the 50 Most Powerful Coming Outs of 2012?

Find out (in alphabetical order), AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "I'm Gay: The 50 Most Powerful Coming Outs of 2012" »

Towleroad Guide to the Tube #1140

AL JAZEERA: America's evangelical anti-gay hate speech.

WADE DAVIS: The former NFL player continues to talk about being gay in the league following yesterday's interviews. "If I could do it all over again, I would come out while I was playing. I now understand the impact that would have had."

MOSQUITOS: How they survive collisions with raindrops.

KELLY CLARKSON: Covers Coldplay's 'Princess of China'.

For recent Guides to the Tube, click HERE.

Former NFL Player Wade Davis is Gay and Talking About it Publicly for the First Time: VIDEO


Wade Davis, a former player for the Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, and Washington Redskins, is talking about the challenges of being gay in the NFL for the first time in a series of interviews with SB Nation and Outsports .

Says Davis: "There was a part of me that was a little relieved because, when I knew football was over, my life would begin. I had this football life, but I didn't have another life away from that. Most of the guys had a family and a wife, but I had football and nothing else."

Watch the interview with SB Nation, AFTER THE JUMP...

USA Today:

In interviews with OutSports and SBNation, Davis talked about the challenges of being closeted in an NFL locker room even as he grew close to heterosexual teammates like the Titans' Jevon Kearse and Samari Rolle.

"You just want to be one of the guys, and you don't want to lose that sense of family," Davis told OutSports. "Your biggest fear is that you'll lose that camaraderie and family. I think about how close I was with Jevon and Samari. It's not like they'd like me less, it's that they have to protect their own brand."

Davis now works with LGBT youth at the Hetrick Martin Institute.

Watch the interview with SB Nation, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Former NFL Player Wade Davis is Gay and Talking About it Publicly for the First Time: VIDEO" »


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